The role of Kaumātua in Māori Health Workforce Development

Shaun Akroyd, Regan Balzer, Rongomaiwahine Mangu


In Aotearoa (New Zealand), Te Rau Ora is a national centre for Māori health and wellbeing, that highly values Kaumātua (respected elders) who enrich the organisation through their wisdom, presence, and dedication to supporting Māori workforce development. In this article, staff reflect on their own experiences and feedback about the work of two Kaumātua, with more than 60 years working in the mental health and wellbeing and Māori health workforce training arenas. Examples from their work delivering wānanga (traditional learning opportunities) across Aotearoa includes for the workforce employed and training in Māori suicide prevention and postvention, for and with whānau Māori (families) and hapori Māori (communities). Privileging kaupapa Māori (philosophy) introduces other Māori concepts such as use of marae (tribal gathering venues) as the preferred location for training; pūrākau, sharing stories; oranga, the creation of life; Ihi, the essence of life; Mana, enhanced with personal development; wehi, a response of awe, Ihowai that is a reflection space and time and; Makurangi, perfection. Training that is based on foundational Māori values of tika (correct), pono (truth) and aroha (love) use content drawn from Mātauranga Māori (knowledge) and Tirohanga Māori (perspectives). Key concepts from Durie’s Te Whare Tapa Whā (four-sided house) model of Māori wellbeing includes speaking directly about tinana (physical) wellbeing, wairua (spiritual) matters and links it to hinengaro, (mental) health and wellbeing. The employment of Kaumātua in the delivery of wānanga by Māori, with and for Māori, is a vital tool for building Māori workforces and wellbeing.


Tēnei te Pō Nau mai te Ao: Mataora ai te ao! Collective Conscientisation: Indigenous Transformation


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